Taking pride in the longest man-made structure: The Great Wall of China

The Great Wall of China is one among those structures of the world which every student is familiarized with in the childhood GK classes as the world’s longest human-made structure. However, as it was claimed that the Wall can be seen from space, that, sadly is wrong as it is not scientifically possible.The appeal of its architectural grandeur and historical significance is such that it was listed as a World Heritage by UNESCO in 1987.

Stretching approximately 8,851.8 kilometers (5,500 miles) from Shanhaiguan in the east to Lop Nur in the west of China, it crosses over five provinces: Gansu, Shaaxi, Shanzi, Hebei, and Liaoning. The Great Wall of China has been countlessly built and rebuilt between the 5th century BC and the 16th century to protect the northern borders of the Chinese Empire.

China is protected on three sides by natural barriers- Himalayan Mountain Range in the south, Pacific Ocean in the East Tibetan Plateau in the West, thereby leaving the northern boundary of the country open for invasion. In olden times, the nomadic warriors would invade China from this side and ransack the livelihood of Chinese peasants. It were these invasions that led the Chinese to embark on the idea of creating a wall to protect them from unwarranted invasions. As early as the Warring States Periods (476 BC – 221 BC), the ruling powers built walls as a defense against the northern nomadic tribes and other potential enemies. The first major wall was built during the reign of the First Emperor, the main emperor of the short-lived Qin dynasty. The construction of the Great Wall of China provides a testament to the far-sighted defence strategies of the emperors in ancient China.

Since The Great Wall of China is spread over thousands of kilometres, it can be visited from any of the ‘legal places’ along its length. 7 of the 8 bits of the Wall are legally open to tourists home and abroad. These “legal” sections of the Great Wall of China include Juyongguan, Badaling, Mutianyu, Jinshanling, Gubeikou, Huanghuacheng and Simatai. Visitors should note that different sections have their own admission fees. Also, tourists are strongly advised not to visit the Wall during China public holidays as it tends to get highly crowded.

Travel enthusiasts usually recommend Beijing, that is the Badaling Great Wall as one of the best places to begin your exploration. Mutianyu is also another popular tourist haunt for a ride on the wild, mile-long toboggan track that leads down to the village at the base of the wall.

As regards the climatic conditions near the Great Wall of China, the weather varies depending on from where you choose to explore the longest man made structure. For instance, in Beijing, all the sections of the Wall are open to tourists throughout the entire year. Yet, travel enthusiasts recommend the months of later March, April, May, June, September, October and early November for planning a Great Wall of China hike. Some of the must haves in your bag while exploring the Great Wall of China are water, sunscreen, sunglasses and a hat, particularly during summers.

A visit to The Great Wall of China is bound to be a once in a lifetime experience.